Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Inflamed Tonsils Anatomy

To better understand tonsillitis, it helps to understand the anatomy of the throat and tonsils.

The pharynx is the back, upper part of the throat behind the tongue. It starts at the base of the tongue and ends at the larynx.

Anatomy examples:

  • Normal pharynx in an adult
  • Normal pharynx in a child
  • Normal tongue

The tonsils are collections of lymphoid tissue in the back of the throat. They are located on both sides of the throat, near the base of the tongue. The tonsils generally shrink over time. At puberty, the tonsils are normally about the size of an almond.

Anatomy examples:
  • Normal anatomy of the pharynx
  • Normal tonsils in a child

Last Updated: Apr 22, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Inflamed Tonsils References
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  3. Cohen R. Defining the optimum treatment regimen for azithromycin in acute tonsillopharyngitis. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2004 Feb;23(2 Suppl):S129-34. [14770076]
  4. Cooper RJ, Hoffman JR, Bartlett JG, Besser RE, Gonzales R, Hickner JM, Sande MA; American Academy of Family Physicians; American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine; Centers for Disease Control. Principles of appropriate antibiotic use for acute pharyngitis in adults: background. Ann Intern Med. 2001 Mar 20;134(6):509-17. [11255530]
  5. Johnson BC, Alvi A. Cost-effective workup for tonsillitis. Testing, treatment, and potential complications. Postgrad Med. 2003 Mar;113(3):115-8, 121. [12647478]
  6. Richardson MA. Sore throat, tonsillitis, and adenoiditis. Med Clin North Am. 1999 Jan;83(1):75-83, viii. [9927961]
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